Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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A few more myths about metabolism

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A little bit more on metabolism…

After writing my OptiMYz edits last week a friend alerted me to an article on their website listing 7 Easy Ways to Boost Your Metabolism. I just want to address a few of the claims the author (for whom I can find no online footprint, by the way) makes.

1. Weight lifting builds muscle and the more muscle, the more calories burned. Research found that those who did resistance training burned an extra 100 calories each day, whether they exercised or not. Strength training causes micro trauma to muscles, and your body will attempt to rebuild the tissue by burning protein and carbs.

Yes, exercise is probably one of the best ways to increase your metabolism. That being said, it’s pretty damn hard to increase your metabolism and the effects of increased muscle mass tend to be grossly overstated. As Tim Caulfield states in his excellent book The Cure for Everything: If you were to gain 10 lbs of muscle you would then burn an extra 60 calories a day. “In cookie terminology, that’s one Oreo. Live it up”.

3. Adding spice to meals can boosts your metabolism by 20% to 25%. Cinnamon, cayenne and mustard seed promotes fat burning and increased the effectiveness of your metabolism.

Again, adding spice to meals can boost your metabolism. However, the effects tend to be much less than this and quite short-lived. An article in the NY Times gets at the truth of this claim: “Generally, studies have shown that on average a meal containing a spicy dish, like a bowl of chili, can temporarily increase metabolism by about 8 percent over a person’s normal rate, an amount considered fairly negligible.”

7. The Yoga position ‘downward-facing dog’ gets your metabolism going. Those who participated in a 50 minute yoga session saw a drop in the stress hormone cortisol, known to block fat burning.

I suppose it’s plausible that yoga might reduce cortisol levels by alleviating stress. It’s highly unlikely that downward-facing dog is going to get your metabolism going. Yoga tends to burn very few calories.

All of these things are great for you and I don’t want to discourage anyone from lifting weights, doing yoga, or eating spicy foods; I certainly do all of these things (yoga less than the others because I find it simultaneously boring and hard). I just hate seeing false claims about huge metabolism-boosting effects.


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Optimyz edits

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I recently participated in my first Mud Run. It was more fun, and more challenging than I expected. But, this is beside the point. In our swag bags there was a copy of the magazine Optimyz. Why these magazines seem to pander to pseudo-healthcare professionals is beyond me. Actually, no, it’s not. It’s because good solid advice isn’t “sexy”. It’s the same reason that people would rather buy green coffee bean extract and visit a holistic healer than to listen to a dietitian. So… In this magazine were a couple of sentences that bothered me. One was in an article about “Wicked wheat” and good old Dr William Davis’s Wheat Belly agenda. While the author actually reached the same conclusion as most sensible people “I see no magical elixir within the pages and practices of the “Wheat Belly Diet”” she also made a couple of  statements that made her seem completely clueless about the topic.

…I found it far-fetched that the Cheerios that got me out of bed in the morning back then were the cause of my current belly bulge battle.

The idea of giving up my treat of a bowl of oatmeal post workout seemed like the Everest of cold turkey quits. But I guess that dramatic reaction may indicate that I may have a problem with wheat.

Um… Neither of these statements indicate that you have a problem with wheat as Cheerios are made from oats and oatmeal is made from, you guessed it, oats! Sigh.

My other issue was with an article by a “certified nutrition coach” who said: “Post-workout carbs should come from… low sugar fruits such as blueberries and papaya.” I wondered to myself “are these low-sugar fruits?” To answer the question, let’s look at the sugar content of these and some other commonly consumed fruits (all quantities are based on a one-cup serving of fruit):

apple = 13 g sugar

orange = 17 g

strawberries = 7 g

banana = 18 g

blueberries = 15 g

papaya = 8 g

Yes, papaya is relatively low in sugar compared to some of these other fruits. However, blueberries are not. My point is that all fruits have nutritional benefits, no need to limit yourself to blueberries and papaya.